Did you know that healthy marriages operate using RECIPROCITY? This means that one partner rewards the other partner’s good behavior with more good behavior. If you are able to do ‘good’ things for your spouse without expecting anything in return, you are a GIVER. And by being a GIVER, you are actually increasing the likelihood that your spouse will want to do good things for you.
One caveat–don’t twist the idea of what it means to do a “good thing.” If you think that it would be good for your husband if he ate healthier so you grab the bag of potato chips out of his hand and throw them away for his own good, you’re not understanding that anything involving a change in his behavior does not apply here. That’s because he will see it as you wanting him to be different than he is–which doesn’t feel at all like a “good thing.”
In many unhealthy marriages, points are tallied and at least one spouse keeps track of the score, usually focusing far more on the negatives than the positives. Keeping score of the negatives usually turns into a game of “right versus wrong”–where our brain’s desire to prove ourselves “right” pushes us to focus on our partners “wrongs.” This is a horrible game for most marriages because in order for one partner to “win” the relationship will LOSE.
HOW TO STOP THIS CRAZY GAME?
The first step to putting an end to the “right versus wrong” game is to make a shift toward noticing and keeping score of the positive things your partner does. This can be as simple as when he walks in the door after work, settles into his comfy chair with an exhausted sigh and turns on the TV you think, “he works so hard to provide for our family.”
Notice ALL the good things and I am certain you will have a much easier time doing nice things for him or even just showing up in your interactions with him in a more positive way–which can make a world of difference!